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Former Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Sr. (1952-2020) honored by Texas Legislature for his many achievements, including being an inspiration “for serving the less fortunate among us.” - Sergio Munoz - Titans of the Texas Legislature

FEATURED, FROM LEFT: Former Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Sr. (1952-2020); his wife of 44 years, Connie Bazan Muñoz; their son, Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission; and their daughter, Marla López. This image was taken on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, at the Texas Capitol during the opening day of the 85th Texas Legislature.

Photograph REP. SERGIO MUÑOZ, JR. FACEBOOK

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Former Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Sr. (1952-2020) honored by Texas Legislature for his many achievements, including being an inspiration “for serving the less fortunate among us.”

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
[email protected]

Former Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Sr., D-Mission, who passed away at the age of 68 on Thursday, July 30, 2020, was honored on Thursday, April 27, 2021, by the Texas Legislature, which recognized his many achievements in and out of politics, including being an inspiration “for serving the less fortunate among us.”

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Connie Bazan Muñoz, their son, Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, and their daughter, Marla López.

The measure, Senate Concurrent Resolution 52 authored by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, now goes to the governor for his signature.

“Sergio Muñoz was an exemplary citizen, an influential political leader, and a dedicated public servant whose vision and commitment to serving the less fortunate among us was an inspiration to all who knew him,” the legislative resolution stated. “Sergio Muñoz was a visionary community leader who gave selflessly of his time and abilities to help others; he was dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of others, and his wisdom, strength, and integrity have set an example for others to follow.”

A concurrent resolution is a type of legislative measure that requires adoption by both chambers (House of Representatives and the Senate) of the Texas Legislature and generally requires action by the governor. A concurrent resolution is used to convey the sentiment of the legislature and may offer a commendation, a memorial, a statement of congratulations, a welcome, or a request for action by another governmental entity.

As authors of Senate Concurrent Resolution 52, Hinojosa and Lucio are the legislators who filed the bill and guided it through the legislative process.

Filed refers to a measure that has been introduced into the legislative process and given a number.

Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is the sponsor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 52.

As the sponsor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 52, Canales is the legislator who guided the bill through the House of Representatives after the bill had passed the Senate. The sponsor is a member of the opposite chamber of the one in which the bill was filed.

A bill is a type of legislative measure that requires passage by both chambers of the Texas Legislature and action by the governor in order to become effective. A bill is the primary means used to create and change the laws of the state. “Bill” types include Senate and House bills, Senate and House joint resolutions, Senate and House concurrent resolutions, and Senate and House resolutions.

During his two two-year terms from 1993 through 1995 in the House of Representatives, Muñoz, Sr.’s far-reaching vision through his efforts became reality on dozens of major legislative measures, including a proposed University of Texas Health Science Center that would lay the foundation for the UT Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, and the creation of South Texas Community College (now South Texas College) along with the establishment of its Board of Trustees.

Highlights of those two measures, as well as other major pieces of legislation bearing his name, follow:

Rio Grande Valley Health Science Center

Muñoz, Sr. in 1993 was a joint author of House Bill 1830, with Rep. Renato Cuellar, D-Weslaco, serving as the primary author, that proposed the creation of the Rio Grande Valley Health Science Center – a vision that continues to be a growing reality today as the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine.

In the House of Representatives, a joint author is a member authorized by the primary author of a bill or resolution to join in the authorship of the measure.

House Bill 1830 provided the vision for setting up a University of Texas medical school, as well as recommended doctoral and master’s programs in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, biophysics, public health, and nursing. House Bill 1830 also proposed that the UT-RGV Health Science Center conduct research relating to diseases along the border area, develop diagnostic and treatments for those illnesses, provide training programs for medical students and resident physicians, and provide for the diagnosis and treatment of patients in the area, including indigent patients.

Creation of South Texas College

Muñoz, Sr. in 1993 was a joint author of House Bill 1102, whose primary author was Rep. Roberto Gutiérrez, D-McAllen (Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, carried the final version in the Senate that would become state law.). House Bill 1102 led to the transformation of the Texas State Technical College branch campus in McAllen into South Texas Community College, later renamed South Texas College, which for decades has helped create a much larger middle-class in the region, and provided affordable, high-quality education for thousands of people in the Rio Grande Valley.

South Texas College now offers more than 120 degree and certificate options, including associate degrees in a variety of liberal art, social science, business, math, science, technology, advanced manufacturing, and allied health fields of study. Additionally, South Texas College is the only community college in the State of Texas to offer 5 baccalaureate degrees. South Texas College has a faculty and staff of more than 2,700 to serve the college’s five campuses, two higher education centers, and one virtual campus.

State DNA database to prosecute sexual predators, other criminals

Muñoz, Sr. was coauthor of House Bill 40 in 1995, which authorized the director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to establish and maintain a computerized DNA database to classify, match and store results of DNA analysis and allow DNA evidence to be admissible as evidence of identity.

In the Texas Legislature, a coauthor is a legislator authorized by the primary author of a bill or resolution to join in the authorship of the measure. Both the Senate and the house of representatives allow an unlimited number of coauthors on a bill or resolution. A coauthor must be a member of the chamber in which the bill was filed.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, forms the molecular basis for heredity and can be used to identify an individual from fluids such as blood or semen.

Adults and juvenile offenders in certain sexual offense cases would be required to provide specimens for inclusion in the database, and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) would be required to obtain samples.

Significantly improved Texas’ ability to find missing children

House Bill 223, of which Muñoz, Sr. in 1995 was the author, changed state law to conform with the National Child Search Assistance Act of 1990, which required that federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies report missing children under the age of 18.

In the Texas Legislature (which is made up of the Texas Senate and the Texas House of Representatives), an author is a legislator who files a bill and guides it through the legislative process (also called the primary author).

Prior to the passage of House Bill 223, the difference between a missing child and a missing person was primarily for the designation of runaways. A missing person is someone whose disappearance was involuntary. A missing child, however, can be someone who voluntarily left the care of their custodian without the consent of the custodian and without an intent to return.

That dual system at the time created by the difference in state and federal law was frustrating for law enforcement officials who wanted to assist a worried parent concerned about a possible runaway child.

House Bill 223 additionally ensured that if the missing person was either accompanied or alone in a situation with indications of danger — such as some indication they have not left on their own choice — they would qualify as legally missing. Before the passage of House Bill 223, they must be in the company of someone under suspicious circumstances to have their disappearance reported immediately.

Required Texas to meet standards of National Voter Registration Act

House Bill 127, of which Muñoz, Sr. in 1995 was a joint author, wound up requiring the state to meet the standards set up by the National Voter Registration Act, enacted by Congress in 1993. Among the changes in the state law were that voters would no longer have to list their gender (sex), and voters would be required to verify their current address and sign a residence statement if the address was different from the registration.

Certain state agencies would be designated as voter registration agencies by the secretary of state. A voter registration agency employee would be prohibited from influencing or discouraging applicants regarding voting or political party preferences.

Addressed the threat of rabies, a highly contagious, potentially fatal disease

House Bill 721, of which Muñoz, Sr. was a joint author in 1995, created new penalties for failure to vaccinate a dog or cat, for transporting dogs and cats without vaccination certificates and for transportation or sale of high-risk animals; require veterinarians to quarantine certain animals and limit the liability of veterinarians who impound animals suspected of having rabies. It required counties to name a local rabies control authority instead of a local health authority.

The threat of rabies, a highly contagious, potentially fatal disease, warranted taking stringent control measures, including new penalties for persons who failed to take rabies control seriously. Rabies had killed four people in Texas between 1990 and 1995, while 1,600 more had undergone rabies inoculations during that period. From 1988 to 1995, about 600 animals ranging from coyotes to cows had been diagnosed with rabies.

The text of Senate Concurrent Resolution 52 honoring the life of Muñoz, Sr. follows:

By:Hinojosa, Lucio
S.C.R.No.52

SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, The Legislature of the State of Texas honors and commemorates the life of Sergio Muñoz Sr., who died July 30, 2020, at the age of 68; and

WHEREAS, Sergio Muñoz was an exemplary citizen, an influential political leader, and a dedicated public servant whose vision and commitment to serving the less fortunate among us was an inspiration to all who knew him; and

WHEREAS Born on January 20, 1952, he grew up in Los Ebanos and was valedictorian of his graduating class of 1970 at La Joya High School; as a young man, he demonstrated exceptional musical talent as a trumpet player, vocalist, and songwriter, and he performed in numerous local bands, including his own group, Sergio Muñoz y Los Incas; he continued his education at Pan American University, where he studied social work; and

WHEREAS, Sergio began his career in public service at the age of 18 as a candidate for the La Joya school board; he went on to serve two terms in the Texas House of Representatives representing District 36, a seat now held by his son, Sergio Muñoz Jr., and he remained involved in politics and committed to creating positive change throughout his life; he also served as a city manager and municipal judge for the City of Palmview and was a successful businessman in the insurance industry and in residential and commercial land development; and

WHEREAS, After leaving elected office, he worked as a lobbyist for various local and municipal interests, and for two decades, he served as an advocate for the health care industry and was committed to providing quality care for the elderly; he was a trusted mentor and advisor to numerous candidates for elected office, and he held several leadership positions in the Hidalgo County Democratic Party and was often seen during legislative sessions supporting and promoting issues of importance to the people of the Rio Grande Valley; and

WHEREAS, He was active in a wide range of professional and civic organizations, including the Knights of Columbus, the Private Industry Council, the Lions Club, the La Joya Educational Foundation, and the Touchdown Club in Mission; he took great pleasure in making his morning rounds to visit local restaurants and in spending time surrounded by friends and discussing family, politics, and Texas Longhorn football; and

WHEREAS, Sergio and his beloved wife of 44 years, Connie Bazan Muñoz, we’re blessed with two children, Marla López and Sergio Muñoz Jr.; he cherished his nieces and nephews, and his eight grandchildren were a source of much pride and joy for him; and

WHEREAS, Sergio Muñoz was a visionary community leader who gave selflessly of his time and abilities to help others; he was dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of others, and his wisdom, strength, and integrity have set an example for others to follow; and

WHEREAS, He was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, and he leaves behind memories that will be treasured forever by his family and countless friends; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 87th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby extend sincere condolences to the bereaved family of Sergio Muñoz Sr.; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution be prepared for his family as an expression of deepest sympathy from the Texas Legislature and that when the legislature adjourns this day, it do so in memory of Sergio Muñoz Sr.

REP. SERGIO MUÑOZ, SR. OBITUARY

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7

Sergio Muñoz, Sr. went to be with the Lord on July 30, 2020. He was born on January 20, 1952, in Mission, Texas to Paulino Muñoz, Sr. and Celia Cantú Muñoz.

Muñoz, Sr. is preceded in death by his parents, sister María Magdalena, brothers Domingo, Alejandro and Jorge Luis Muñoz, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 44 years, Connie Bazan Muñoz, his children Marla (Jaime) López, and Sergio (María Elena) Muñoz, Jr., and his nephews and nieces he claimed as his own, J.J. (Melissa) Peña, Jr., Gerardo and Selina Alaniz.

His grandchildren who he adored are Gael Garza, Carolina Peña, Sofia Peña, Aleksandro López, Arianna López, Sergio Muñoz, III, Caterina and María Elena Muñoz.

He is survived by his brothers Paulino (Alma), Rubén (Araceli), Armando (Lupita), Leonel (Yolanda), Gerardo (Janie), sister Rosaura Muñoz, Sister-In-Laws Adela (Juan) Peña and Adelina Alaniz.

Muñoz, Sr. was well-known in his community and lived life to the fullest. He loved his community and loved to spend time with family, friends, and anyone who needed a friend or someone to lend an ear.

One could usually find him any given morning making his rounds to all the local restaurants with a cup of black coffee in hand. He was usually surrounded by friends talking about his favorite topics of family, politics, and Texas Longhorns football.

When he wasn’t surrounded by friends, he was surrounded by his grandkids, who were his pride and joy.

He especially loved all the family traveling to Austin in the Longhorns Express R.V. and tailgating before Texas Longhorns football games.

Muñoz, Sr. was raised in Los Ebanos, Texas, and graduated as Valedictorian from La Joya High School in 1970.

Growing up he worked in the fields providing for his family as the oldest brother entrusted with raising his siblings.

During his teenage years, he began his music career playing the trumpet in local bands like Henry and the Glares, Lenny and the Lucky Six, Carlos Guzmán y Los Jóvenes, and then his own band, Sergio Muñoz y Los Incas.

He was a vocalist, songwriter, and provided the musical arrangements for some of the songs these bands performed throughout the United States.

Upon graduation from high school, he was accepted to the prestigious West Point Military Academy in West Point, New York. However, due to the responsibility of providing for his family, Muñoz, Sr. decided to continue his music career after high school.

He went on to pursue a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work from Pan American University.

Muñoz, Sr. was always active in local and state politics.

At 18-years old, he decided to run for the La Joya School Board. From that point forward, he set out on a path to stay engaged and make a difference.

Muñoz, Sr. was proud to offer his advice and guidance to assist those who asked, always encouraging people to get involved in the political process. He helped many individuals pursue elected office, coordinating their campaigns and serving as a trusted advisor and mentor. His involvement and work helped elect numerous individuals to public office, past and present, on the federal, state, and local levels.

Muñoz, Sr. believed in building coalitions, working together, and seeing past the outcome of past elections to build bridges for the future. He had the ability to put differences aside for the good of the community and on countless occasions, many of his previous adversaries became allies.

Muñoz, Sr. served as Texas State Representative for House District 36 for two terms, from 1993 to 1997.

He was the first to represent the then-just-created House District 36, a seat that that has been held by his son, Sergio Muñoz, Jr., since 2011. This was the accomplishment of which Muñoz, Sr. was most proud.

In addition to his involvement in politics, Muñoz served in many organizations such as the Private Industry Council, Lion’s Club, Tripa Club, La Joya Educational Foundation, La Joya Quarterback Club, and the Touchdown Club in Mission.

Muñoz, Sr. also served as city manager and municipal judge for the City of Palmview.

During his time as city manager, he worked to relocate City Hall, establish essential city services and set the foundation for future growth and development for the City of Palmview.

Muñoz, Sr. worked in the insurance industry operating the Muñoz Insurance Agency in the McAllen and Mission area during the late 1970s and 1980s.

He also worked in residential and commercial land development over the years.

After his tenure in the Texas Legislature, he worked as a lobbyist advocating for various local and municipal interests.

For the last 20 years, Muñoz, Sr. focused his time on being a strong advocate for the healthcare industry, where he and his businesses worked to provide quality care at home for the elderly.

On many occasions Muñoz, Sr. would provide services to the less fortunate, without financial gain.

His chief priority was to assure that everyone had the appropriate care needed, even if it meant as some of his friends would quote him saying,no tengo dinero(I don’t have money).

His eyes and heart were to always help someone in need and he shared whatever knowledge or connections he had to help others operating in the local health care industry.

It was common to see him at the State Capitol during the legislative session or on the phone with local, state, or national leaders advocating for the needs of the Rio Grande Valley.

Muñoz, Sr. served as the Immediate Past Faithful Navigator of the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus-Bishop Garriga Assembly 1111.

He also served as past Grand Knight of St. John of the Fields Knights of Columbus Council 10887.

He was also very involved with the Hidalgo County Democratic Party, proudly serving as First Vice-Chair and Precinct Chair for Precinct 78.

Serving as Pallbearers were Jaime López, Judge J.J. Peña, Jr., Fire Chief Gerardo Alaniz, Armando Muñoz, Constable Larry Gallardo, Chief Deputy Mario López, Mario Hinojosa, Jerry Zamora, Raúl Garza, Octavio Pacheco, and Carlos Ortegón.

Honorary Pallbearers were The Knights of Columbus Council of St. John of the Fields, the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus-Bishop Garriga Assembly 1111, and the Hidalgo County Democratic Party.

Muñoz, Sr. would have wanted to include his breakfast buddies from Taco Ole, El Patio, Díaz Diner, Taco Express, Rosie’s, Molcas, Don Lupe’s, and Taco Fiesta, and his Tuesday and Thursday lunch crew from Koko’s at Uptown.

A drive-by procession was held in honor of Muñoz on Friday, August 14, 2020, from 6:30 pm. to 8:30 pm at Mission Event Center.

A blessing was performed at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 15, 2020.

Interment followed at Valley Memorial Gardens. COVID-19 precautions were strictly observed following state and federal guidelines.

Funeral Services were entrusted to Ric Brown Family Funeral Home in Mission.

Although his time on this earth has concluded, his memory and the wisdom instilled in the lives he touched will live forever.

“It is hard to forget someone who gave us so much to remember.” – Author Unknown.

The family thanked all those who called, sent messages, cards, flowers, food and other kind expressions of sympathy following Muñoz, Sr.’s passing:

“Thank you to so many for sharing countless memories and examples of his generosity, support and guidance. This has brought much comfort to the family at this heartbreaking time. May God grant us peace and comfort in the days ahead and may you watch over us from above. We will love and miss you ALWAYS.”

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For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).

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